Dallis Flowers is greeted by friends after receiving his framed Oak Park and River Forest jersey during a retirement ceremony before OPRF's game against Lake Park Friday, September 1, 2023 in Oak Park, IL. (Steve Johnston / Wednesday Journal)

The turnout of family and former OPRF teammates for Dallis Flowers football jersey retirement Sept. 1 was “a blessing” the NFL player will long remember. The ceremony took place before the Huskies’ home opener with Lake Park Sept. 1.

“It means a lot,” said Flowers, who’s about to enter his second season with the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts. “These guys are going to be with me for life, and I appreciate them.”

Flowers’ number 21 is only the second football number to be retired by the school. Eric Kumerow, who wore 14, is the other.

“It’s surreal,” said Flowers, class of 2015. “Coming into high school, I wasn’t even thinking about getting my jersey number retired, I was just playing football and basketball. But all the hard work and dedication is being noticed, and I’m definitely blessed for this opportunity.”

When OPRF told Flowers about this unique honor, to say he was elated would be an understatement.

“It’s like a dream without having a dream,” he said. “I grew up seeing this happen to other people, and for it to happen to me, it’s a blessing.”

Flowers took the road less traveled to reach the NFL, attending four different colleges over a seven-year period (Robert Morris College, Tiffin University, Grand View University, and Pittsburg State). He made the NAIA All-American Team twice while at Grand View, and during his bonus eligibility season of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he had a team-high four interceptions and two kickoff return touchdowns at NCAA Division II Pittsburg State.

Then after going unselected in the 2022 NFL Draft, Flowers signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent. He rewarded their belief in him by not only making the 53-man roster, but by eventually becoming their lead kickoff returner.

Starting with Week 12, Flowers amassed 715 yards on 23 returns with an average of 31.5 yards to lead the league. Perhaps his biggest moment took place in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football Nov. 28, when he ran back the second-half kickoff 89 yards to set up a Colts’ touchdown versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For his accomplishments, Flowers was voted to the Pro Football Writers of America Association’s All-Rookie Team.

Several of Flowers’ OPRF teammates, including Jared Scott, came out to support him at the ceremony. 

“I wanted to be here for him,” said Scott, who also attended several colleges upon graduating in 2017 and still has hopes of making and sticking in the NFL after being on the Carolina Panthers’ training camp roster last year and then spending time on the Colts’ practice squad. 

Scott said he enjoyed playing with Flowers on the Huskies’ 2014-2015 boys basketball team. He got a first-hand glimpse of how hardworking and special Flowers was.

“I was a sophomore playing up on the varsity team when Dallis was a senior,” Scott said. “He was electric on the field, and that goes true for basketball as well. He was the leader of our (basketball) team, and it was a lot of fun.”

Flowers was coached in football by John Hoerster, whom he speaks highly of.

“Coach Hoerster is a great coach and a great person outside of football,” he said. “I’m glad I got the chance to be one of his players, and I appreciate him a lot.”

In turn, Hoerster says he feels blessed to have coached Flowers. He especially likes the fact that Flowers has stayed humble and true to his roots despite becoming a well-known NFL player.

“He’s a great football player, there’s no arguing that,” said Hoerster. “But in terms of the relationships he’s built through football going back to high school, he’s held on to his friends. Dallis is not surrounded by those who are Johnnies come lately. He’s sticking with that crew that he’s been friends with forever. 

“Dallis also came back last year for the Proviso West game, and in the offseason to visit his former teachers. He’s maintaining a connection to his roots, and I’m humbled and proud to get to say that I got a chance to coach Dallis Flowers.”

Just because he’s established himself in the NFL, that doesn’t mean the grind stops for Flowers. He enters this season looking to improve further for the Colts.

“I just expect to be me and make plays,” Flowers said. “I want to play sticky and savvy defense at corner and put my name on the map and let the world know who Dallis Flowers is.”

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